In this series, we chat over some cake, with influencers and creators about life and the influencer industry.

In this session, we had a soulful conversation with Nanja Massy about her career as a makeup artist, being an influencer, and her tips on how to balance out a hectic schedule.

Nanja Massy is an all-around, Belgian it-girl who has been an active Instagrammer since 2010. As an early adopter, she has been evolving as fast as the platform itself. In between being a makeup artist and an influencer, managing a beauty studio, and organizing workshops, Nanja made time in her busy schedule to share her story with us.

We start our interview with the imperative: “What is your favorite cake?”

Nanja doesn’t hesitate for a second: “Chocolate cake, of course!”

How would you describe what you do to someone who doesn’t know anything about Nanja Massy?

Nanja: I’m a full-time makeup artist, hairstylist, influencer, and owner of MassyCreations. I organize workshops, do bridal makeup and hair, carry out photoshoots, write beauty columns, and manage my beauty studio.

Via Instagram and other online channels, I share pictures, videos, tutorials, stories, and projects, often in collaboration with selected beauty brands. I consider myself lucky to do what I do because I found my passion, and there’s never a dull moment.

How does a typical day in your life look like?

Nanja: It all depends on what is on my agenda for that day. If I have a photoshoot, then I get up earlier, but if I don’t have early meetings, then I wake up around 8:30, 9:00.

I start my day with a healthy breakfast and a workout. Afterward, I check my emails, select the photos to post that day, organize workshops, follow up with my clients, etc.

On Mondays, I plan my entire weekly schedule, and I like to use an app called Plann to keep me organized. I love cooking and going for groceries – I enjoy being a housewife, too!

Let’s go back in time. When did you first start with social media?

Nanja: In 2010, when Instagram just launched on the market. It was kind of a spontaneous thing. My mom used to take a lot of pictures of me and my outfits, so I started posting that.

As I learned more about beauty and makeup, I became passionate about it. Soon after I started sharing tips and products I used, my audience grew, and I became an influencer. I learned so much in the last nine years!

How did makeup and hair become your passion?

Nanja: I picked up a lot of tips and tricks from my grandmother! She was such an influence while I was growing up.

She always had red lipstick on, and her hair was always perfect. I enjoyed watching her do her makeup, putting on her perfume, and using her favorite skincare products. I learned a lot from her, and she is still my greatest inspiration.

How does being an influencer fit with your business? Do they overlap and reinforce each other?

Nanja: My job as a makeup artist and being an influencer overlap immensely! They complement each other in every way.

As my interests are makeup, beauty products, travel, lifestyle, fashion, I try to show that on my Instagram profile. I also like to share personal moments, pictures of the workshop, or photos of my outfits.

Being trustworthy is part of the deal.

You create a lot of different content. What is the easiest and most fun content to create?

Nanja: Well, the easiest to create and the most creative content are different for me.

For example, every time I travel, I take so many pictures because everything is new – hotels, places, restaurants, etc. It’s very inspiring, and every image is Insta worthy. For me, that is the easiest way to create content.

When it comes to creating stunning visuals, a great location, and good lighting are crucial. For photos of the products, it’s important to make a beautiful background or setting because you need to make these objects more attractive and “sexy.” That artistic touch is key.

You need to be original and creative, and then your photos will have a unique value and show your style.

How do you decide with which brands you’ll collaborate?

Nanja: Before saying “yes” to any collaboration, I always ask myself if I would buy and use that product. I only promote brands with values that align with my own, and that have good products.

When it comes to skincare, I usually go for high-quality products that show great results, like Estée Lauder, Clinique, and Caudalie. When it comes to creating new makeup looks, I like to test out makeup collections from high-street brands like H&M and &Other Stories.

Do you remember your first brand collaboration?

Nanja: Oh, yes! My first gig was a perfume promotion for Estée Lauder. I remember how awkward it was to put a price on one photo I was supposed to create for this product. It was all very new to me!

A professional photographer did the photoshoot, and my clothes and makeup matched with the red perfume bottle. I wanted to create an attractive setting and make my creative vision shine through. Every time I collaborate, I want to make it perfect!

Do brands give you a lot of creative freedom?

Nanja: It depends. Some brands can be strict when it comes to creating content. They want to check and approve every detail of the content I create: from stories to captions, visuals, and hashtags.

Other brands give me a lot of freedom and want me to give my twist to it. It’s a matter of trust, I guess.

An Instagram state of mind.

How important is social media when you start to plan new projects or announcing your workshops? Do you promote your business to your followers?

Nanja: I see social media as a great platform where I can show how easy it is to do makeup and choose the right products. I want to make it accessible to everyone, so social media is perfect for that. Many people learn about my work through Instagram, and then they get in touch if they wish to learn more or to hire me for their wedding or a photoshoot. Plus, social media makes it easy to find and reach the right audience in your niche.

Who takes your pictures?

Nanja: My husband, my mom, and also other content creators at the event or workshops. If I want to create a campaign for a brand or I’m working on a bigger project, then I always hire a professional photographer.

I try to collect and gather as much as possible new ideas, outfits, makeup launches, so when I have enough content, I’ll book a photographer for one day to shoot all the concepts. The best way is to collect a lot of visuals and publish them separately when you don’t feel so creative, or you don’t have enough time.

Which campaign or project are you proud of?

Nanja: My book! 🙂 But that’s not a collaboration since it was my initiative. From brand collaborations, I enjoy creating all Dyson campaigns!

Tell us more about your book.

Nanja: The idea of the book came as a logical step in my career. I wanted to create an overview of my favorite, easy-to-recreate looks. Plus, as an influencer and also as a makeup artist, you need to tell a story around the products. You need to have a good creative concept.

It’s all about the balance, baby.

In your opinion, what does it take to be an influencer?

Nanja: First and foremost, you need to have passion. This is not a regular 9 to 5 job, and you need to be ready to give all your time to make it in this industry.

I would recommend you find your niche as early as possible. Read about it and get all the insights and knowledge so that you can become an expert. Having talent is essential, but you also have to build your skills with experience and education.

I would also suggest taking social media training so you know how Instagram and other social media platforms work.

And last but not least – find the right balance between your personal life and social media activity! It’s important to distance yourself from your laptop and your phone sometimes. Learn how and when to say “no” or “not now.”

What were the biggest hurdles you had while working for a brand?

Nanja: Negotiating the budget is always a difficult topic. When I started, I was a very young girl, and I didn’t think it was such a big part of the business.

Once I started getting collaborations with more prominent brands, I realized I needed to have proper legal support. Thankfully, my husband studied law, so he helps me a lot with checking the contracts and other legal documents. It’s crucial to have that kind of safety and protect yourself.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

Nanja: I always dreamt of starting my own beauty school! Also, it would be nice to create my own capsule collection of makeup, clothes, or jewelry.

What are your top five favorite Instagram accounts?

  • @ascookedbyginger
    •  If I don’t know what to cook, she has a handy website where I can enter keywords of what is still in the fridge, and then I can get inspiration for what is on the menu in the evening.
  • @filis_pina
    • Everyday outfit inspiration.
  • @violette_fr
    • Someone I look up to when it comes to beauty. Creates super-cool beauty tutorials and looks.
  • @lesleystraveldiary
    • Belgian blogger duo. She travels around the world with her partner, and that always makes me dream away and want to discover the world for myself.
  • @saasha_burns
    • I follow her for her outfits, lifestyle, travel adventures, and interior inspiration.